Two of the biggest names in fresh citrus are joining forces. Bee Sweet Citrus, a well-known leader in the California citrus industry, has announced its intention to become the newest member of Sunkist Growers, the world’s largest cooperative citrus marketing system.

“It just makes sense,” said Bee Sweet President Jim Marderosian. “Our two organizations share a common commitment to excellence. Bee Sweet has an excellent product and Sunkist has an excellent marketing network – and a brand name that is known and trusted worldwide.”

“We’re extremely pleased to welcome Bee Sweet into the Sunkist system,” said Nick Bozick, chairman of Sunkist’s Board of Directors. “This new affiliation demonstrates the expanding opportunities and benefits offered to citrus growers and packers by Sunkist.”

Founded in 1987, Bee Sweet Citrus is a premier grower, packer and shipper of fresh citrus, headquartered in Fowler, in the heart of California’ s Central Valley. With a product list that includes Navel and Valencia oranges, lemons, grapefruit, mandarins, and several exotic specialties such as minneolas and pummelos, Bee Sweet brings more than six million cartons into the Sunkist system. The fruit will continue to be packed under the familiar Bee Sweet, Sweetheart, Royal Bee and Abeja labels, but now it will also wear the Sunkist brand.

“Our philosophy is simple,” said Marderosian, “Do what you do best, and be the best at what you do. We excel at growing and packing a great citrus product. Sunkist, with its unmatched global footprint, excels at marketing. Together we make an unbeatable team.”

“At Bee Sweet, we grew from a small packer to an industry leader by building our company on quality products and customer service,” Marderosian added. “We’re known for our “hands-on” approach to growing and packing and for our customer service. Our packing, storage, marketing and distribution facilities are, literally, surrounded by our orchards, giving us complete quality control from tree to truck.”

In addition to its more traditional citrus offerings, Bee Sweet is also known for its exotic, specialty citrus. One such customer favorite is Bee Sweet’s Satsuma mandarin. This intensely colored, seedless treat, is available in November and December.

A new specialty line installed in 2005 increased Bee Sweet’s packing operations to more efficiently meet consumers’ desires for growing numbers of specialty citrus varieties.

“The affiliation with Bee Sweet represents the joining of two great brands that will do even greater things together,” said Sunkist President and CEO Tim Lindgren. “Bee Sweet brings to our system a large supply of the varieties of high quality citrus that are in great demand from our customers worldwide, and a philosophy of quality and service that matches our own.”